Longboard wheels are similar to standard skateboard wheels that are round in shape and are designed to rotate on axle with the help of bearings. Longboard wheels are made of polyurethane polymers that are intended to provide flexibility, durability and high performance.
Irrespective of your longboarding style, there are certain factors that help in choosing the best longboard wheels, neglecting any of these can cause in poor performance and I am sure you are not interested in less than the best.
Outline Of This Content
- 1 Our Choice of Best Longboard Wheels
- 2 Explanation of the Factors
Our Choice of Best Longboard Wheels
1. Orangatang Kegel
Orangatang Kegel wheels are real big monsters with a diameter of 80mm and width of 56mm and prove to be a combination of high speed and versatile balance. Their outer lip has been given a cantilevered straight shape which is the key to their high grip and excellent performance on the roads.
Orangatang used urethane technology in developing their products and have tested them for years that have proved themselves as winners. Kegel is an upgraded version of their earlier 70mm President wheels that are known for their great performance with high stiffness and heat resistance.
Their 46mm core with a deep valley is also quite big that distributes weight evenly and ensures consistent performance.
These wheels are meant for professionals and are not recommended for beginners or amateurs, however many beginners buy them because they get attracted towards the best in the market, my recommendation for them is to use these with caution as they are really very fast.
On the price side you might find them costly, but for professionals these are value for money and their price is just miniscule if you compare it to their features and performance.
2. Abec11 Big Zigs
ABEC 11 is known for their urethane technology and with the creation of their bigger Reflex Big Zigs they have brought a revolution in downhill racing. In 75mm they are quite big and very smooth, in recent time they have gained popularity among st downhill racers by winning many races every day.
You can easily ascertain “Reflex” in their name as the hidden formula that makes them a real performer. This secret ingredient of the company has upgraded its performance and gives it more rebound than their earlier wheels.
You can also use these wheels for carving, cruising, slalom racing, but you should always be very careful in selecting them as they pick up speed very fast and are meant for advanced skaters and somewhat skilled racers.
The build quality of these wheels is awesome and we have not seen any deterioration in their shape even after few downhill races. For beginners these might not be the right choice because they are fast and a bit pricey, but you can consider them as your future wheel sets.
3. Sector 9 Slide Butterballs
Sector 9 has created Butter Ball Wheels with finest urethane technology that has been made by amalgamating various longboarding techniques and mixing them to develop wheels that can give an enhanced sliding experience.
This wheels are not as fast as many others, but have a nice buttery slide hence named Butter Balls. They have been rated 80a but they are quite harder and are not recommended for cruising or downhill racing.
These wheels come in 65mm and 70mm diameter with a contact patch of 38mm that is relatively wide and ideal for various sliding techniques. If your purpose is speed then don’t expect high speed from them rather I would recommend these wheels for those who are starting or learning to slide.
Some Consideration To Buying Longboard Wheels
- Shape and size of the wheels also known as Diameter.
- Hardness of the wheels also known as Durometer.
- Hollow area inside the wheel where a bearing rests also known as Wheel Core.
- Area of the wheel that makes contact with pavement also known as Contact Patch Size.
Explanation of the Factors
Choosing Wheel Diameter
The diameter of wheels size is measured in mm or millimeters. When choosing longboard wheels it is important to know that the size of the wheels directly effect in good, bad or mediocre performance. A general rule of thumb is that longer the board, larger the wheels and short boards work best with smaller wheels.
It is also important to know that larger wheels provide fast speed and smaller wheels give slow speed. Smaller wheels could work for lengthy boards, but larger wheels could be problematic for shorter boards and could result in wheel bite while carving or cruising.
- Wheel sizes of 70-75mm are meant for larger boards of say 40 inches and above. These can be good options for advanced and somewhat experienced skaters who want good performance and higher speed.
- Wheel sizes of 67-72mm are meant for normal length boards of about 34-42 inches. Wheels in lower side of 67mm help in pushing and getting acceleration while wheels in upper side of 72mm provide good speed.
- Wheel sizes of 60-67mm are good for short length boards of say 34 inches and below. Wheels of 60mm help in pushing and getting acceleration, longer wheels of 67mm could be used for achieving high speeds.
- Wheel sizes below 60mm are meant for beginner skaters and heighted skaters who are skating down the street, bowls and skate parks.
Choosing Wheel Durometer
Hardness of the wheel is measured in durometer. When choosing longboard wheels it is vital to understand that toughness of wheels effect speed and grip on ground. A general rule of thumb is that harder wheels are fast and softer wheels are slow. Hard wheels are more inclined towards providing higher speeds, while the advantage of soft wheels is that they provide better grip.
If your end need is good performance with stability, select larger but softer wheels for lengthy boards and if you want to achieve thrilling speed, select smaller and harder wheels for shorter boards.
Durometer works on a scale which ranges from 1-100, higher the number, harder the wheels and lower numbers on the scale ensure softness of the wheels.
Another rule of thumb is, the heavier you are, the harder the wheels should be and vice versa, it is because if the wheels are not hard enough to bear your weight, your ride become slow and you could not achieve higher speeds. On the contrary if you are weight is lighter than the wheels could bear, the gripping is bad on the ground that may result in hazards.
Many companies use A Scale and B Scale ratings, difference between both the scales is that B scale has 20 points lower than A scale it means that if A Scale has the rating of 80a, B Scale will rate the same wheel at 60b and both will have the same hardness of the wheel.
- Wheel durometer range of 78a-80a is meant for riders weighing 135 lbs and less. These wheels provide are good for cruising, downhill racing and smooth riding.
- Wheel durometer range of 80a-87a is meant for riders weighing between 135-175 lbs. These wheels fall in medium soft range and are also good for cruising and downhill racing, but provide somewhat accelerated speeds.
- Wheel durometer range of 87a-95a is meant for riders weighting over 175 lbs. These wheels are slightly harder and faster and are good for street and rough surfaces.
- Wheel durometer range of 85a-99a is also meant for riders weighting over 175 lbs.
These wheels are very hard and prove to be good for beginner skaters, skating rams, pools and parks. These wheels provide good speed and gripping for advanced skaters too and if you are looking speed wheels, the wheels in this range are a good solution for you.
Choosing Wheel Shape
Choosing appropriate wheel shape is another important factor in determining better grip on the ground and providing stability. If the wheel shape is not appropriate to your technique and board length, you end up with bad performance and risk your life.
Accidents or hazards happen due to mismatch of the different longboard parts particularly wheels with your style and body weight. To better understand this concept it is vital to know about different wheel shapes which are as under.
Square Edge Wheels
Square edged wheels are square in shape around corners of the wheel s that provide good grip on the ground and are a good choice for speed lovers. These types of wheels are good for slalom longboarding and downhill racing.
Beveled Edge Wheels
Beveled edge wheels are not flat around corners of the wheels and are cut at an angle that provides contact patch on the edge of the wheels. These types of wheels are good for taking turns while bombing hills.
Round Edge Wheels
Rounded edge wheels are round in shape around corners of the wheels that provide lesser grip resulting in less friction between the ground and your longboard. These types of wheels are good for carving and sliding techniques.
Choosing Wheel Core
Longboard wheels have a hollow area inside that have proper cutouts for bearings. These cutouts also known as wheel core make fixing of bearings inside the wheels easier. The main purpose of the core is to spread heat generated due to rotation of the bearings, while you are longboarding.
If the wheels are not made so the generated heat due to high speed will break the wheel and will result in accident. Before choosing wheel types it is also important to choose wheel core types according to your longboarding techniques, these are as follows:
- Backset Cores
Backset cores provide even core at the back of the wheels and allows a little more play on the outside of the wheels. These types of cores are good for sliding and carving techniques.
- Centerset Cores
Centerset cores are situated in the center of the wheels and distribute weight along the wheels that allow riders to flip and rotate their boards with ease. These types of cores provide good solution for riders looking for street and vert skating.
- Sideset Cores
Sideset cores are situated in between backset and centerset cores and provide heaving gripping on the wheels. The disadvantage with them is they can’t be used for flipping due to their location. These types of cores provide good solution for riders looking for speed skating.
Contact Patch Size
Contact patch is the area of the wheel that makes contact with the ground. A rule of thumb is that if your longboard wheels are large their contact patch size should also be large and vice versa. Large contact patch distributes the skaters weight over larger area and decreases rolling resistance to avoid slowing down while speed boarding.
It is also important to ascertain that squared edge wheels provide maximum contact with the ground resulting in good gripping and round edged wheels provide the minimum resulting is less gripping.
Choosing your wheels keeping in mind the above factors can help you choose best longboard wheels that will give you the best experience you will ever have.
When choosing longboard wheels, color is not always important and it does not help in determining how well a longboard will ride, however you should always consider wheel size and Durometer in choosing the best wheels for you.
In general, big wheels work best for longer boards and small wheels are good for smaller boards; this factor leads us to a serious conclusion that says if longer boards are used with smaller wheels, wheel-bite can happen.
Considering these factors we have chosen three set of wheels for you that not only will give you excellent performance, but you will also love their built quality and durability, below is an explanation of these.